Ars Electronica 2019

I imagine Ars is a whirlwind for anyone visiting, it certainly was for me as an exhibiting artist. I made an effort to see other works, and take in some of the evening performances. I even made it out of the main exhibition area into the satellite sites in Linz. All this, despite aching limbs and overstimulated senses. And a daily commute from Vienna. 


There were many pieces which I liked, though I wouldn’t like to calculate what percentage of the overall work exhibited this was. There is a LOT of spectacle. If this is your thing, you should go. 

‘Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th’ Samson Young (2018) 12-channel sound installation with 12 powder-coated speakers; video (with sound, 45 min)

The main concert performance of ‘underbody’ with Sabine Grabinger was perhaps most disappointing of the performances I saw. That is subjective, but the friend sat next to me came to the same conclusion independently. We questioned the point of having an industry-standard robotic arm preforming with a dancer in a no-contact interaction which didn’t make full use of either’s capabilities, whilst ignoring the fantastic machinic sounds emanating from the robot and instead choosing an accompaniment of prepared piano. Why Ars? How is this original? How does it integrate the art, science and tech?

‘Liminal’ (2018) Louis-Philippe Rondeau (CA) interactive installation. 

My (predictable) overall favourite area was the galleried space (though some of the universities in the Campus space were exceptional) as well as some of the satellite venue installations (of course Samson Young made another contribution which I fell for before realising it was he). The evening outdoor electronic sound & music performances were GREAT. Moritz Simon Geist in particular. 

The issue with Ars – as with many events of this scale – is that you are left overwhelmed, with the feeling it was all a bit of a blur and you didn’t offer your attentive self to any of the pieces, fully. And you think you will check out many of the artists’ work and themes and of course… you already took more time than you should have out of life, and so the catalogue gets shelved (I now recycle them almost immediately) and the experience becomes a web entry that you hoped would somehow keep the lived experience alive, but probably won’t. Ah well, there’s always next year.